He was drunk while driving a dinghy. His wife died because of it.

Robert T. Everson, Jr.
Robert T. Everson, Jr. Monroe County Sheriff's Office

A 64-year-old former Key West man has been sentenced to more than 10 years in prison for causing the death of his wife in a 2012 drunk boating crash.

On June 14, Robert T. Everson Jr pleaded no contest to boating under the influence manslaughter for the death of Wendy Everson, who was 62 when she was tossed from a dinghy in Key West Harbor.

Everson’s blood-alcohol content was .257, more than three times the legal limit. His wife died from “submersion in water,” according to the medical examiner.

Everson was arrested Sept. 27, 2012, after the July 15, 2012, crash. But after his release he left town.

He eluded police for several years. In March 2018, he was found in Indiana and taken back to Monroe County to resolve the case, prosecutors said.

Everson told a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officer that he “tried to surf the wake” of a passing vessel.

He also reportedly told the FWC “it’s my fault” the boat flipped.

As his wife was being treated at Lower Keys Medical Center after the crash, he fell asleep twice while writing out his statement to police, according to the Monroe County State Attorney’s Office.

Monroe County Circuit Judge Mark Jones sentenced Everson on June 14 to 124.5 months in prison, just under 10.5 years, and four years of drug-offender probation after his release.

The Coast Guard spotted the dinghy running in circles and when they got to the boat, Everson yelled to them to help his wife at the stern, prosecutors said.

Wendy Everson was in the water bleeding from her head when she sank below the water’s surface. Her clothing was stuck in the dinghy’s propeller and a Coast Guard crew member jumped in to cut her free. But at one point Robert Everson swam over and climbed on the crew member’s back trying to pull him away.

Assistant State Attorneys Christina Cory and Christine Poist handled the case.